Jesus said that we who believed on him would do the same works he did and even greater works:
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do…
What works did Jesus do? He healed the sick delivered the oppressed, stilled storms, worked miracles.
Jesus said we’d be able to do these works…
John 14:12… because I go unto my Father.
By which he meant not a change in location but his exaltation, his being seated at the right hand of the father, far above all principality and power and every name that is named both in this world and that which is to come; his being given a name above every name; his exaltation to the place of supreme authority in heaven and in earth. With that in the minds of his disciples, he turns to them and says:
John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Whatever his disciples ask in his name he, as the great King over all the earth, will make it so.
We miss the importance of what Jesus is saying partly because the translation is off and partly because we have an incorrect picture of how Jesus did his works and how we, his disciples are supposed to do his works.
It’s Demand Not Ask
When we read “whatsover ye shall ask in my name” the word “ask” makes us think that Jesus is talking about prayer, making a request, or petitioning God for something. The verse doesn’t mention who we are to ask but we assume Jesus is telling us to ask God or maybe to ask Jesus himself.
But the Greek word translated “ask” here, “aiteo”, can also be translated demand. See for example:
Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon “2. …ask for, demand…”
αἰτέω [Medium Frequency]verb
αἰτέω is translated as "ask" 29% of the time in all Greek texts. Authors in parentheses use that sense more frequently than other authors. Appian, for example, commonly uses αἰτέω to mean "demand."
ask (29%), demand (11%) (Appian), asked for (7%), ask for (7%), asking for (2%)
Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT): “ Aiteo ask for, demand…
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT): “1. ‘To demand’… 2. ‘To request’…”
Since the word can be translated either “ask” or “demand,” this scripture could be translated:
John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask demand in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask demand any thing in my name, I will do it.
But every translator, as far as I can tell, apparently assuming that Jesus is talking about asking God for something, translates "aiteo" as “ask." But Jesus isn’t talking about asking God for things, he’s not talking about prayer, he’s certainly not talking about demanding something from God, he’s talking about doing works, making miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick. Jesus is talking about his disciples exercising the “all authority in heaven and in earth” that is going to be given to him. Jesus is talking about his disciples enforcing his sovreignty on the earth, in the same way that Jesus enforced God's will in the lives of people, by healing those that were oppressed of the devil.
Honi The Circle Drawer Gives Us A Clue
The story of Honi ha-M'agel, Honi the Circle Drawer, (His name is sometimes spelled Onias or Choni.) a charismatic Jewish miracle maker, who lived in the century before Jesus, helps us understand what Jesus is saying to his disciples.
Honi was known for the miraculous power of his prayers and is best know for an incident when he was asked to pray for rain. The Jewish people came to Honi during a drought and asked him to pray for rain. He prayed but nothing happened, so he drew a circle in the ground and told God that he wouldn’t leave the circle until God sent the rain. The rain came. Here’s David Flusser’s take on Honi:
The idea that an outstanding man has the privilege to decree God’s decisions on earth is not foreign to ancient Judaism. Many years before the time of Jesus, Honi, another pious wondermaker, forced God to send rain by actions which seemed to be presumptuous to his contemporaries. Then it was said to him:
‘You have decreed below, and the Holy One fulfilled your word above.’
In another rabbinic source Honi’s story is related as follows:
‘Beloved are the righteous before the Holy One, because all what they do and decree, the Holy One performs.’
Because Honi, the charismatic pious man forced God to send rain, he caused reproach from the side of Shimeon ben Shatah, the leader of the Pharisees of his day. In another source a debate between this scribe and Honi is related. The Pharisee said to Honi:
‘The Holy One does not cancel His decree because of a decree from a righteous one!” Then Honi answered: ‘Yes, the Holy one does cancel His decree because of a righteous one’s decree.’”
Judaism and The Origins of Christianity, David Flusser, pg. 536-537 (Emphasis mine.)
Here’s the passage Prof. Flusser is referring to from the Babylonian Talmud, :
Our Rabbis have taught: What was the message that the Sanhedrin sent to Honi the Circle-Drawer? [It was an interpretation of the verse], Thou, shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee, and light shall shine upon thy ways etc. (Job 22:28 )
‘Thou shalt also decree a thing:’ You have decreed [on earth] below and the Holy one, Blessed be He, fulfills your word [in heaven] above. ‘And light shall shine upon thy ways:’ Ta’anith 23a, Soncino Edition Babylonian Talmud, online PDF version, pg 72 PDF edition
The Rabbis understood that one way that God worked was by bringing to pass what men decreed, by backing up what men decreed, by fulfilling the words spoken by men.
What I really want you to notice is the similarity between what Jesus said and what was said about Honi. In Honi’s story it is said the Holy One performs what the righteous do and decree, in Jesus story, Jesus does what his disciples demand in his name. In one God does what the righteous (tsadik in Hebrew) decree, in the other Jesus does what his disciples decree.
That’s what Jesus is telling his disciples, you decree on earth below and I'll make it so from my position at the right hand of God above. “Decree,” gives, I think, a better idea of what Jesus is communicating to his disciples in John 14:13
Whatever you decree in my name that will I do that the father may be glorified in the son. Whatever you decree in my name, I will do it.
The idea of someone decreeing something and God making it good is not an invention of 20th Century charismatic Christianity. Before Jesus was even born the Jewish people had recognized that method of ministering in Honi the Circle Drawer.
The Hebrew Prophets
Many stories from the Hebrew Bible illustrate this idea of God fulfilling the decrees of men. The Hebrew prophets often worked in this way, ministering to the needs of the people by speaking words, by decreeing that something come to pass:
Elijah decrees rain will cease:
1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
Elijah didn’t pray, all he did was say. He didn’t say the rain would come according to God’s will, he said the rain would come according to Elijah's word.
Elisha decrees a baby for a childless woman.
2 Kings 4:8 NIV One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. 9 She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10 Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I have a home among my own people.” 14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked. Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.”15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway.16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord,” she objected. “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” 17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.”
Elisha doesn’t ask God to give the woman a child, instead he decrees what will happen. Elisha doesn’t even decree it using the words “in the name of the LORD,” though his story makes it clear, (The woman recognized him as a holy man of God.), that he was a representative of the LORD. In other words, even when he doesn’t use the words “in the name of the LORD” he is still speaking in the name of the LORD, he is still representing him. Put differently you can use the name of the LORD all day and all night but unless you are truly representing him, unless you are really speaking forth God's thoughts on the matter nothing will happen. Looked at the other way, if you're truly representing the Lord when you decree something, i.e you're speaking on his behalf, it will work even if you don't use the formula, in the name of the LORD.
They'll Release You In The Morning
Once when I was just learning to walk in these things a friend asked me to go pray for F. who used to come to church, who was in the hospital, seriously ill with internal bleeding that the doctors didn’t seem able to stop. I went to the hospital, talked with him for a little bit, then prayed in the spirit for a little. I had come to understand (I’ll get to that part in more detail a little later.) that in order to speak to the mountain and have it move, in order to decree something in Jesus name, I had to believe in my heart, i.e. I had to know in my heart, I had to see with the eyes of my heart, I had to perceive with my spiritual eyes, that what I said was going to come to pass. So I’m praying in the spirit to find out what my spirit says about the man’s situation…
(You could think about it this way, I’m getting the mind of God on the matter. You see, my spirit is connected to God who is a spirit. Paul puts it this ways: 1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”and 1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” Paul says we have the "mind of Christ, but where is it? Where do we go to consult it? The mind of Christ is in our spirit, i.e. we are connected to the mind of Christ through our spirit. Christ’s mind is in me, in the sense that I am networked into the mind of Christ, in a way that is analogous to how my computer is in the internet and the internet is in my computer, I am in Christ and he is in me. I access the internet through my computer, I access the mind of Christ, i.e. I discern what God thinks about a thing, I am privy to God's thoughts about a matter, through my spirit.)
So… I’m praying in the spirit trying to discover what I have faith for, what I can believe will happen, what the mind of God is about the matter, and after just a couple minutes, in my heart, my spirit, I sense this: They’ll release you and send you home in the morning. So I added a little of my own prayer to that just so the person would realize that I was actually praying, and after jabbering on for a bit I got to the real prayer and said, “They’re going to release you and send you home in the morning.” That was it, that was the prayer.
Elisha said, ‘This time next year you’ll have a baby.’ I said, ‘They’ll release you and send you home in the morning.’ I think sometimes we read things like that and knowing that Elisha is a prophet we just assume he’s predicting the future. I think it’s more accurate to say he’s causing the future, and I was causing the future for that man in the hospital. I didn’t have to yell and scream, and cry and pray for hours trying to get God to relent and help the man, all I had to do was check with the home office and speak the message I was given. That’s what it means to be in Christ, that’s what it means to decree in Jesus name.
Well, when I left the room I didn’t feel particularly spiritual, my only clear thought was ‘You moron, you’re going to look pretty stupid in the morning if he’s still here.’ But I just did my best to ignore that and said to myself, “They’re going to release him and send him home in the morning.” My point is there wasn’t anything particularly emotional going on here. I wasn’t on some kind of emotional high. To the extent I had any perceivable emotion it was fear that I was going to look like a fool. I’m saying this because I’ve heard people say that when we talk about faith we’re just talking about some kind of emotional experience. As far as I can tell that’s not so. My emotions usually run counter to my faith, so it takes some willpower on my part to act on what I believe and ignore what I think, what my emotions are telling me. Several months later, maybe a year or so later, we ran into F. at Costco and he was very effusive with his thanks telling us several times that after I prayed the internal bleeding stopped.
When I first became a Christian, we’d read about Jesus rebuking demons and then we’d go around saying things like: ‘I rebuke satan.’ or ‘I rebuke that spirit of strife,’ or ‘I rebuke sickness and disease,” but it turns out that the word “rebuke” just describes the nature of a verbal statement. Saying ‘I rebuke you Satan,’ is a bit like saying, ‘I speak harsh words to you Satan.’ When Jesus rebuked a sickness or a demon the word “rebuke” wasn’t actually spoken. “Rebuke,” describes the words which Jesus spoke. I like the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament’s definition of “rebuke”:
ἐπιτιμάω epitimaō overcome with a powerful word, rebuke
When Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea:
Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
That’s what he did, he overcame the wind and the sea with his words. What were the words? Marks fills them in:
Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Peace be still. Jesus didn’t pray, he decreed. That’s one of the most common ways that Jesus ministered, using his words to exercise authority over demons, disease and nature, speaking words to bring healing, deliverance and miracles…
Matthew 8:16 (NIV) When evening came, many who were demon- possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick
Matthew 17:14 And … there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.”
Here’s the Bible In Basic English translation of that last verse:
18 And Jesus gave orders to the unclean spirit, and it went out of him: and the boy was made well from that hour.
Jesus Ordered Healing And Deliverance To Be
To understand what's going on here it helps to recognize Jesus statement to his disciples in the context of a system of authority, like the military, or a kingdom. How is authority exercised in the military, or a kingdom? Orders are given, decrees made, rulings issued.
The people of Capernaum saw Jesus operating with authority:
Luke 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
Jesus didn't ask God to make the demon leave, he demanded that it leave, and the people recognized that he had authority to order demons around.
A Roman Centurion Knows A Thing Or Two About Authority:
Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.”
The Centurion recognized that Jesus had authority, that Jesus had only to speak the word, to issue the command, to decree it so, and his servant would be healed. Notice who originates the command. It’s not Jesus, it’s the Centurion who says, only say the word and my servant shall be healed. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. The centurion believed that Jesus could speak the word, and Jesus had faith to speak the word. From faith to faith the kingdom of God is manifested.
Jesus never asked a demon to leave he compelled them to leave, Jesus never asked that a person be healed he ordered them to be healed, and that’s how he taught his disciples to do his works and that’s how he wants us to do his works. Jesus is king over all the earth we as his representatives, enforcing his sovereignty over all the earth, don’t ask of demons but demand that they submit to the king. We don’t ask of sickness and disease we order it to submit in the King’s name.
As part of their discipling, training, apprenticeship, Jesus would send his disciples out on ministry expeditions. He deputized the disciples and gave them authority to heal and cast out demons. He didn’t tell them to ask God to heal people or cast out the demons. He told the disciples they were to do these things.
Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
How did Jesus give them this authority? Did he give them a badge or a spiritual six shooter? I imagine that this grant of authority and power looked very much like what Jesus says to his disciples in John 14:13 :
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
How did they exercise this authority? The same ways Jesus exercised authority. They said to a demon, Go and he went. They said to the sick be healed and the sick were healed. They’d been given authority to do these things and they exercised this authority in the same way the Roman Centurion exercised authority, by issuing commands. When the Roman Centurion wanted someone to go he didn’t petition Cesar asking that he command a person to go, he simply gave the command. When the disciples of Jesus do the works of Jesus they don’t petition God to drive out demons they themselves demand that the demons leave in the name of Jesus. So we see that when the seventy returned they claimed the devils were subject unto them:
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
They said the devils were subject to them, not subject to God, but subject to them. In other words, they commanded the devils to go and they went. Or as the New Living Translation puts it:
When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!"
After the resurrection the disciples continued healing in Jesus name:
Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
Peter had something. What did he have? The right to heal people in the name of Jesus. Peter didn’t pray to God, he commanded in the name of Jesus that the man rise up and walk. That’s what Jesus is talking in John 14:17, whatever you demand in my name that will I do.
The disciples are the agents of the Great King Jesus, the one who’s been given all authority in heaven, the one who’s been seated at the right hand of power, the one who’s name is above every name. They are his agents and they establish his sovereignty by issuing decrees, by demanding things in his name.
He Shall Have Whatsoever He Saith
Several years ago I spent a great deal of time meditating, studying and trying to understand Mark 11:23:
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
What I learned transformed my Christian life. For more than twenty years I'd been trying to answer the question, "How do I do this believing thing?" Finally, I understood. I came to see that when the Bible talks about believing or faith it means knowing something in your heart, seeing something with your spiritual eyes, perceiving something with your spirit. As Papa Hagin used to say when the light comes faith is there. That's what I came to understand after this extended time, months literally, of meditation and study.
I saw that Jesus was saying that if in my heart, in my spirit, I believed, I could see, I knew, I perceived, that something was going to come to pass, if I'd say it, if I'd say what it was that my spirit said was going to come to pass, then it would come to pass. See it in my heart, speak it, it will come to pass.
As I kept studying and meditating I came to realize that Mark 11:23 was a ministry scripture. Before, I had thought of this scripture as applying mostly to my personal life, as just applying to moving the mountains in my life. But now I saw that this was one of the ways that Jesus taught his disciples to minister to others, to heal the sick and cast out demons. You can see this most clearly in one of Matthew's versions of this faith can move mountains scripture. The context is the story of a father whose son suffered from a condition which the father describes, Mat. 17:15 NIV:
Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
The father had brought the son while Jesus was away and asked the disciples to heal him. They try unsuccessfully. Jesus returns and heals the son. Afterwards the disciples ask why they couldn't heal him. Jesus replies, Matthew 17:20 NIV:
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Jesus is using this scripture, about moving mountains by speaking to them in faith, to explain to the disciples about ministering to the the sick, about delivering the sick and demon oppressed. He's teaching them how to minister.
It was after this that I began to see what I've briefly mentioned above about Jesus, his disciples, the Hebrew prophets and Honi The Circle Drawer, using their words to heal, to set free, to do the work of God on the earth, to cause God's reign, His kingdom, His sovereignty to appear.
I also began to see Jesus teaching his disciples to minister in this way in other scriptures, e.g.:
Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
I saw that Jesus was saying, that if two of us would agree, be in harmony, about anything we "ask," i.e. "demand" or "decree"(Ask here is also"aiteo" as discussed above.), it would be done for us. So Becky and I and people from the church who caught on, began praying this way. One of us would decree something in the hearing of another of us and if their heart agreed with it then they would decree the same thing, or something in harmony with what we were decreeing. For example, I'd say to Becky because we were believing for finances, "The money will come." and Becky would say to me, "The money will come." Jesus said, if two of us are in harmony about anything we decree it will be done for us of the father in heaven, so the money has to come. It seems to work.
Around this time I began to ask where is this principle in the Gospel of John? If it's really one of the ways Jesus is teaching his disciples to minister then it should be in the Gospel of John as well. This bothered me for a couple of weeks and then I remembered John 14:17. I'd already learned, from Papa Hagin, that the word "ask" there meant "demand," but now I saw more clearly that this "demand" was about doing the works of Jesus and that confirmed for me that Mark 11:23 and the other speaking to the mountain scriptures were about doing the works of Jesus. It seemed to me that the same was true about John 15:7:
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask (i.e. demand or decree) what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Naturally, my next question was, well, where is this in the Apostle Paul's writings? If this principle of doing the works of Jesus by decreeing in his name is really true then the Apostle Paul should mention it too. You see can Paul doing it, i.e. decreeing things and having them come to pass:
Acts 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”
But where does Paul lay this out in his epistles, his letters to Christians, his instructions to the church? I came to see that Paul talks about it in terms of the triumph of Jesus and of his union with the Church which is his body and that's what I want to talk about next.
When Jesus said his disciples would do his works because he was going to the father, because he was going to be seated at the right hand of the father, because he was going to be given all authority in heaven and in earth and that he would do whatever they decreed in his name, he was authorizing his disciples to do works in his name. He was giving authority, to those that believed on him, to do his works. He was deputizing his followers to make use of the authority he would be given. That’s the way Jesus did his works, by exercising the authority he had over sickness and disease, devils and demons, and the entire natural world and that's the way his apprentices were to keep working.
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